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How Was ‘American Idol’ Without Simon?

Nellie Andreeva

For the past year, since Simon Cowell announced last January that he would leave American Idol to focus on bringing The X Factor to the U.S., there has been relentless speculation whether the veteran reality show would survive without its signature star. As Idol launched its 10th season tonight with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler and new Wednesday-Thursday airing pattern, we’re finally starting to get answers. Here is an excerpt from TVLine’s Idol expert Michael Slezak’s first take on the premiere. (Check TVLine in the morning for his recap):  

“Admittedly, night one of Idol 10.0 wasn’t its most thrilling installment of all-time ever, but the show’s increased emphasis on truly talented singers — and its decision not to belabor audition packages from the talentless, the deluded, and the attention-craving — made for a zippy, feel-good 120 minutes. And while the season premiere lacked Simon Cowell’s addictively salty bitchery, it benefited greatly from Steven Tyler’s stream-of-righteous critiques. Yeah, sometimes it takes a beat to translate the hoots and howls and adjectives emanating from the Aerosmith frontman’s giant mouth, but he’s already exhibiting solid instincts when faced with young, unpolished talent. His “I wasn’t feelin’ the pizazz” feedback to big-voiced-but-soulless 15-year-old Kenize Palmer was spot on, even if he eventually caved and said “yes” to giving her a Golden Ticket.”

And here is what American Idol creator/executive … Read More »

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‘Idol’ Still Trying To Get Elton John As Judge

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s Emmy coverage.

EXCLUSIVE: Is American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe unhappy with who’s going to be the show’s next two judges? It sure sounds that way. I caught up with him at the 8th annual BAFTA/LA Tea Party in Century City today and asked him to confirm that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will replace Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres. “I must say, I really do love Elton John. He’s a huge favorite of mine,” Lythgoe replied to me. The producer added that Elton’s packed schedule is “always the problem”. Then Lythgoe revealed what strategy Idol is using on Elton to convince him to clear it and come on the show. “It depends on whether [he] wants to give back.” As Deadline Hollywood has been continually reporting, everybody connected to Idol has made no secret of the fact that Elton John has always been their first choice to replace Cowell. But no deal is in the offing not just because of the musician’s touring commitments but also because of his astronomical asking price. Which is why the musician’s UK publicist Gary Farrow told Deadline London Editor Tim Adler in late July that “There’s more chance of me fucking you than Elton being on U.S. Idol.” But it’s clear Lythgoe is still trying.

Lythgoe, who left Idol and then recently returned, also blamed Simon Cowell for Ellen DeGeneres not returning as an Idol judge next season. “I’m sorry she’s gone, to be honest with you,” he told me, “because I think there’s a place for Ellen DeGeneres on American Idol. And that is being the voice of the people. She wasn’t given a fair opportunity to serve that function. Read More »

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‘Idol’s CKX Warns Of More Layoffs To Come

Michael Ferrel, the new CEO of the American Idol producer, says there are “a number of opportunities for further reductions in staff and overhead”. Announcing CKX’s second quarter results, Ferrel said the company had saved $15 million a year making 50 people redundant at London-based 19 Entertainment, its American Idol subsidiary. CKX also owns the Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali franchises. CKX says its protracted sale negotiations to either former CEO Robert Sillerman or a rival bid from Simon Fuller are continuing, as are negotiations with U.S. TV network Fox for the 10th season of the show. It expects Fox to renew its American Idol deal by the end of Q4 or early 2011 at the latest. “It would almost be impossible that Fox wouldn’t want American Idol for its next season,” CFO Thomas Benson told investors.

The entertainment group was also coy about who will definitely be replacing Simon Cowell as judge. It expects to announce replacement judges shortly after Labor Day on September 6. Jennifer Lopez will be one, alongside possibly Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.

For the three months ended June 30, CKX’s revenue increased by 13% to $89.4 million. Almost $7 million of this growth was from American Idol, mainly due to more broadcast hours and higher licence fees. Operating income before depreciation, amortization and non-cash stock compensation (“OIBDAN”) was flat at $16 million.

Total revenue for the first half of the year was down 3% at $156.1 … Read More »

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